Spiritual Direction and Reading: August 2003 Archives

Spiritual Combat Revisited I have


Spiritual Combat Revisited

I have been reading the book with the title above on and off for a couple of month. Last night I finished a section that prompted some fairly serious thought.

from Spiritual Combat Revisited Jonathan Robinson of the Oratory

The good in us is God's and the evil in us is our own. However much this may go against contemporary modes of thought, this unpleasant truth is the lesson of Scripture and the teaching of the Church. But it is not just contemporary modes of thought that find the truth repellent--it is we ourselves. Somewhere, buried not all that deep in ourselves, is a conviction that we are not really all that bad. Here we have to learn to pray for the humility to see and accept this fundamental lesson of the Gospel about the human condition. (p. 56)

I wonder about this--not about the truth of it, but more the nuanced subtleties of it. Stated this boldly it begins to sound a bit Calvinist. One would expect the next words to be "utter depravity." But scripture and the Church both teach that mankind was created good as part of a good creation; this would seem to imply that there is something good. Now, as Mr. Robinson points out, that good comes from God, and yet we experience it and are part of it and are inseparable from it. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that we tend to embrace the good as our own doing. But it is not, it is part of our being, but not something we have caused to be. Whereas everything that God made is beautiful and good; and yet, we see the tracery of destruction, unhappiness, and corruption throughout the human world. Why is this? Because we are, in fact responsible for all of that. Everything that is ugly, unwieldy and depraved is of human origin--perhaps promoted and encouraged by the Evil One, but willingly undertaken by people themselves.

Do we accept that all good is from God. Intellectually, every Christian acknowledges the truth encompassed in this passage; however, equally our emotional aspects resist it because it seem a vast abyss wherein we will become utterly lost. If we accept that we are capable only of evil (St. Thomas Aquinas points out that the only act a person is capable of without the assistance of grace is the rejection of God's will) then we might begin to think of ourselves in that fashion.

And yet, we are loved by God and we are loved for ourselves--corrupt, imperfect, and unloving. His Love makes us worthy of love. If we lean on that and rely upon His goodness to support us we will begin to understand to truth of the passage above without sinking into a mire of self-revulsion and hatred--hardly conducive to active Christian ministry and life.

So we must carefully tread the brink of an abyss--total self-involvement and self-assurance and total self revulsion. With the truths of the scripture and the teachings of the Church these two resolve quite readily and we needn't think about the act.

However, we do need to adjust ourselves to the fact that we are in need of transformation, and everything that is foul around us, is more than likely contributed to by us. Even if not, it is the product of human beings and not of God. We need to be very careful about taking credit for all the good that flows from our Gracious Lord and part of our examen should be to tease out those places where we continue to give ourselves credit for what we do not do ourselves.

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We Are All Sinners


We Are All Sinners

And all subject to temptation.

We are not perfect nor do many of us wish to be.

The first step in conversion is to recognize Jesus Christ and know through Him the love God has for us.

The second is to desire to be all that we are in His eyes.

Sinners though we are, God does not look upon us as such. He looks upon us as children.

And children that we are, we need to strive to please Our Father, as all young children do.

My daily prayer, O Lord don't let me become a teenager in faith
if it is thy will, get me through adolescence quickly.

God loves us into eternity if we will stop our struggling to be free and remain free in His loving embrace.

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Make Heaven Here on Earth


Make Heaven Here on Earth

Speak the truth in love.

That's it. When we speak the truth, we share Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only solution to all that ails us. He is the Truth. He is the only light that matters. We count on Him for transformation. We count on Him to change the entire world. This is the Truth that sets us free--free for complete service to Him. Praise God and thank Him for all His holy works, by them we are transformed and made whole.

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Mark at Minute Particulars had a particularly interesting post about humility. I excerpt part of it below to comment:

To a humble mind nothing is more astonishing than to hear its own excellence.
caught my eye from the link in the post below. Sure it makes sense at first glance. As another translation has it, "nothing is stranger to a modest person than to hear about his own excellence." But just think about it for a moment. Are any of us really amazed to hear of our own excellence? How deep does humility have to go for one to be truly astonished that another person might find excellence in us?

And I have merely an anecdote to comment on this. Each year, I am taken into my boss' office for my annual review, and every year I come out astonished that I have once again fooled everyone and hidden my utter incompetence. I think it is quite easy to be astonished by hearing of our excellence in certain situations. I never fail to be astonished when someone writes to say that something here has been useful or helpful. Then I think, "Well, I must not have gotten in the way of the Holy Spirit so much that time."

No, astonishment at our own excellence I think is rather the norm for most of us. It is very satisfying and rewarding, of course, but unendingly surprising. And I certainly wouldn't rank my humility as being up their with the Blessed Mother's.

Oh, and here's my chance to astonish Mark if he happens by--his blog is always interesting, articulate, and wonderfully informative. If it isn't on your list of places often visited, you would do well to add it. I never fail to be edified by him or by Mr. da Fiesole at Disputations. There now, two people have a chance to gauge their astonishment. But I do say that I am always blessed when I make the attempt to engage and understand the discussion that comes from either of these two bloggers--at home or abroad.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Spiritual Direction and Reading category from August 2003.

Spiritual Direction and Reading: July 2003 is the previous archive.

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